Better than… playing with Barbies.
What does the Bieber key, an image looming on a giant screen over the audience of girls wearing matching outfits with their friends, signify? Before one could figure it out, the lights in the Staples Center went off and the girls' screams rose like thunder as someone on stage started talking. It could have been a homeless man who had wandered in off of Figueroa announcing a plague. This audience would have shrieked first and asked questions later.
Justin Bieber-style excitement is infectious. The sudden mass chanting of “Justin! Justin!” caused all-over goose bumps as nearly everyone in Staples did “the wave”, accidentally punching each other in the face with their cell phones as they tried to keep it up. Round and round and round the arena, this was the longest wave in the history of waves. It stopped only when a light finally flickered again on stage.
Some people might complain, but it's magnificent when the girls scream. It's like a pep rally. Everyone is on the same sugar-infused team. This is good. Children are wonderful.
It felt like I just came out of a cave and I was marveling at civilization for the first time.
A mom reprimanded me about how I should put my beer in the cup holder on the seat in front of me; I wanted to explain that the bouncing children were shaking the seats and it will spill everywhere but I just said, “OK” since she's a mom and I'm powerless in this environment. I put my beer in the holder and it spilled all over the shoes of the daughter of the mom that made me put it there.
All the girls posed and primped themselves in case Bieber might notice them from a mile away, invite them backstage and live happily ever after for one whole night together. It's a healthy fantasy all girls should entertain. They don't need to know that if the fantasy ever actually materialized it will probably be lame or embarrassing. Let them believe they will ride away on Escalade chariots into the sunset with the object of their shy sensual fantasies.
In the midst of all this tweendom, a countdown appeared on the screen above the state, replacing the giant Bieber key. Seven minutes. The screaming continued. Another Michael Jackson song (the fifth of the hour) played in the meantime.
With 30 seconds to go, a guy appeared on screen and reminded the girls all to breathe. They shrieked in response. Then there were fireworks everywhere. It was almost impossible to think clearly when Bieber floated into view on black wings made from cymbals and guitars and confetti exploded all over the audience.
After a little dancing, Bieber removed his jacket exposing his tattoos and golden gloves. He said we all looked gorgeous tonight. He began wiping his face but stopped midway because he was compelled to hit a few smooth notes. He asked, “Are you ready?” A Stevie Wonder type of swelling sound surrounded him. Two women in white long butterfly gowns rose from the floor, attached to a windmill. Bieber was casual and rested on a railing that just happened to ascend from the ground when he leaned back against thin air. He kept grabbing the general area where his crotch might be, if it were a real saggy crotch. He was so cute it was like looking at a dolphin.
On multiple screens, he appeared to dive underwater wearing sneakers and baggy white pants. Then he emerged in real life wearing a gold hoodie-vest, popping out of the ground again. He grabbed his crotch (again!) and pointed at the audience. Then we watched a montage of Bieber awards footage that was a little nauseating. Was it a secret transmission, a cry for help? “Save me from my fame! It's such a bummer.” Probably not.
More shrieking from the crowd. It started raining on the screens. Everyone held themselves. Bieber emerged with an umbrella and black pants. All the screens displayed him in various poses trapped behind raindrops. He put his hands up just wishing he could break through and then he ran away. The stage went black. A helicopter circled on screen. We watched a video of Bieber being chased by paparazzi dressed as assassins. He tripped them up and winked as he got away, jumping over buildings and landing on the stage somehow. I couldn't tell whether he was singing or lip synching, or some combination. No one cared, truth be told.
His movements were less sexual than they were Buster Keaton inspired. He really exudes that sense of lost puppy that characterized Keaton's movements, a sense of innocence, like a puppet brought to life.
Biebs chanted “Swag, swag, swag, swag,” and, belting himself to a railing, he exposed his whitie tighties. A platform elevated him high above all the adoring girls. Confetti rained. This platform swirled him around the room like a caged animal in a zoo. Girls in the audience started trying out new swervy dance moves they never thought possible until tonight.
When Justin Bieber played the drums, everyone metaphorically peed their pants, and more fireworks started flying above our heads. Justin addressed the ladies. He said he was looking for his one lady. A searchlight panned the audience and they all wondered, will it be me airlifted from my seat into Bieb's arms?
Everyone was waving their hands again, punching each other. No one minded. A girl was brought on stage, almost weeping. She sat in a chair made of fake speakers and covered her mouth, perhaps to catch her vomit from excitement. He stood in front of her, grabbed her hand and let her touch his shoulder.
“What's your name?” he asked.
“Monique,” she answered.
“Okay,” he said. “Everyone give it up for Monique!” They turned off the lights and the girl was dragged off stage while we watched childhood videos of Bieber. Then full-grown Bieber appeared on screen encouraging us all to become doctors and firefighters. What will he look like when he is 28?
He performed “As Long As You Love Me” without a shirt on.
Biebs tripped going up the stairs once but didn't drop his air guitar, which he played back to back with the guitarist, whose guitar had a Canadian flag on it. Then he melted into the ground and it was over. The word BELIEVE smacked us all in the face from the screen.
Just kidding! It wasn't over! Biebs emerged from the ground shirtless, rapping about being our boyfriend and the crotch grabs increased incessantly as we neared the grand post-finale finale. Biebs kept his pecs flexing when he danced and finished off the mashed potato with a super heartfelt grab of his pants.
Random notebook dump: Despite there being over 15,000 people at the show, there were no lines at the bar.
See setlist below:
All Around the World
Somebody to Love
Love Me Like You Do
She Don't Like the Lights
Die In Your Arms
Out of Town Girl
Never Say Never
Beauty And a Beat
One Less Lonely Girl
As Long As You Love Me